CHEVROLET AT ST. LOUIS
Ninth AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals
Friday, Sept. 23-Sunday, Sept. 25
Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Illinois
FS1: Qualifying – 7 p.m. ET Friday (live)
FS1: Qualifying – 2 a.m. ET Sunday (taped highlights)
FS1: Eliminations and finals – 2 p.m. ET Sunday (live)
Chevrolet Drivers Seek to Continue Momentum in Countdown to the Championship
AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals is important second step in six-race playoff
DETROIT (Sept. 22, 2016) – There’s a noticeable spring in John Force’s step this week, primarily due to a strong start to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
With momentum from the opening-round result and the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS package substantiated, Force is even more exuberant as he seeks to claim an unprecedented 17th Funny Car world title.
Force and two-time Pro Stock champion Jason Line, driving the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS, earned Countdown first-round victories Sunday at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. Force, driving the Auto Zone/PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, jumped from eighth to third in the Funny Car standings.
“I have a race car now that I can race with, and when you get a race car and you’re on your game I can win,” said Force, who recorded his third win of the season and 146th of his robust career. “At the end of the day it was just a fight and we got the win, and we’ll just take it from here. It is on to St. Louis with this PEAK Chevy hot rod but the competition is going to be ready. I don’t think you ever sneak up on anybody anymore.”
John Force the past three seasons entering second race of the Countdown:
Next Four Races
5th, entering St. Louis
Round 2 loss
1 round win
1st, entering Dallas
Round 2 loss
2 final-round losses, one semifinal loss; 8 total round wins
4th, entering Dallas
Final round loss
3 final-round wins; 1 final-round loss
Eleven Chevrolet drivers are in contention for championships in Funny Car, Top Fuel and Pro Stock entering this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near the famed Gateway Arch.
Courtney Force, who is sixth in the Countdown Funny Car standings in the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, leads John Force Racing teammate and Robert Hight (Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS) by one point. Force defeated her father, John, in the semifinals in 2014 at Gateway Motorsports Park on the way to earning her second consecutive victory in the Countdown.
Line, who entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed defeated KB Racing teammate and four-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the final at zMAX Dragway for his NHRA-leading eighth victory of the season and 45th of his career. Anderson, who posted seven victories in the 18-race regular season and was the No. 1 qualifier at zMAX Dragway, holds the Gateway Motorsports Park elapsed time record of 6.455 seconds set last September. Line set the track speed record of 213.47 mph in September 2012.
Chevrolet Pro Stock drivers hold the top four spots, and seven of the 10, in the Countdown.
Vincent Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS) moved from fourth to third in the Pro Stock standings with a semifinal appearance in the Countdown opener. He has advanced to the semifinals in each of the past three events, and reached the final round at Seattle in early August.
Bo Butner (Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro SS) is fourth, followed by Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro SS), Shane Gray (Valvoline/Nova Services Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS). Skillman, who won the event at Brainerd, Minnesota, last month, earned his first Pro Stock victory at Gateway Motorsports Park in 2015.
In Top Fuel, Brittany Force gained one position to fourth in the Countdown standings following a No. 2 qualifier spot and quarterfinal appearance in her Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster at zMAX Dragway.
“When you look at who you are up against, it’s never easy. This is tough competition,” said Force, a three-time winner during the regular season. “To know that we have moved up in the points and to be up there with names like (Doug) Kalitta, Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher it’s pretty outstanding considering this is only my fourth year. I have a championship team with Alan Johnson and Brian Husan and all the Monster guys. So I know we are capable of it.”
Five racers will drive their Chevrolet COPO Camaros in the Stock Eliminator class, including Jeff Strickland of Red Bay, Alabama, who won the events at Gainesville, Florida, and Bristol, Tennessee, this season, and Dan Fletcher of Churchville, New York, who won the opener at Pomona, California.
FOX Sports 1 will telecast three hours of live eliminations and finals at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, along with an hour of qualifying live at 7 p.m. ET Friday. FS1 will telecast taped highlights of qualifying at 2 a.m. ET Sunday.
Chevrolet will welcome fans to its Chevrolet Performance Display during the weekend. It will include a number of Chevrolet’s award-winning production vehicles, examples of Chevrolet engines, and a selection of performance parts and accessories that are available for fans to purchase from their local Chevrolet dealer.
CHEVROLET RACING ENGINEERING PREVIEW – AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGRAM MANAGER: “Chevrolet drivers put up some impressive numbers at zMAX Dragway in the first round of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, with John Force racing to an impressive Funny Car victory in his Auto Zone/PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS and Jason Line continuing his mastery in Pro Stock in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS. His KB Racing teammate, Greg Anderson, Vincent Nobile, and Alex Laughlin also had solid showings on an action-packed and intense weekend of racing. The pressure will continue to mount in Round 2 of the six-race Countdown this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. Fortunately, the 11 Chevrolet drivers chasing their respective titles in Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Top Fuel have been in this situation before, and experience counts.”
CHEVROLET FROM THE COCKPIT – AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER: “This championship won’t be won on how you did last weekend. We are focused on getting round wins in St. Louis right now. Those three wins this season have given this whole Monster Energy team a lot of confidence. We are all working together and I can’t thank Brian Husen, my crew chief, and Alan Johnson, our Top Fuel consultant, enough. I started all over at the beginning of the season with a whole new routine and it has paid off. We are No. 4 in the points and I am ready for St. Louis.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK ANTIFREEZE & COOLANT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “I won here a couple of years ago but that was then. The cars have gotten quicker and I think the competition gets better every year. I am not just talking about (Tony) Schumacher and (Doug) Kalitta. I have two Funny Cars in my pit area that can whip me. Robert Hight and that Auto Club Chevy and my daughter Courtney in the Traxxas Camaro have been running better than me. She won the Traxxas Shootout and had to beat Robert to get that win. Nobody is feeling sorry for me and I know I have to work harder than a lot of these young kids. I was in the gym this week and got some rest.”
COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, TRAXXAS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “I think I have the best and most consistent Funny Car I have had in my entire career. Danny Hood and Ronnie Thompson have this Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro running so well. We had a hiccup in Charlotte, but that was just a close race to lose that could have gone either way. The key for all the Funny Cars is to get good runs on Friday in qualifying. You have to take advantage of the best conditions and start from the top of the field. These Funny Cars are so quick and fast now they are a blast to drive, but the competition has never been tougher.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “I think if you can average semifinal finishes throughout the Countdown you should be in position to have a shot at the championship when we roll into Pomona for the Auto Club finals. This weekend in St. Louis is a race I have won before and feel good about getting to. We tested on Monday (at zMAX Dragway) and made some really quick runs in the heat and cooler conditions. We just need to string together some good runs on Friday of qualifying so we start at the top of the field, and then we need to strong together four good runs on Sunday. I know we can do it and we can start in St. Louis.”
VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “This race marks one year we have been with Elite Motorsports. We started out a little rough, but we are getting the hang of it. We moved up to third in the points and we have five races to go. We have great momentum and I’m looking to put this Chevrolet Camaro in the winner’s circle.”
JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “It was just a great way to start the Countdown. If you want to win the championship, you really just have to come out smoking and somehow we were able to do that (at zMAX Dragway). To race Greg (Anderson) is good, but it’s also bad because he is the last guy you want to race in the final round. He gets the best of me more often than not, but (Sunday) was my day. We (tested Monday) and we are not done. We are going to do whatever we have to do to win this championship.”
GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “We just didn’t have a good enough package to beat that blue car (Line) in the final round. He is tough. But it was a good day for KB Racing. We go to St. Louis with first and second in the points.”
SHANE GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE/NOVA SERVICES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “We all felt like we had a car that could have won the Charlotte race. But in Round 2 the engine cut off for a second right after the launch, and even though it started right back up, we’d already lost our momentum and ultimately the race itself. It had us a bit puzzled, so we stayed and tested and thankfully figured out what happened. We’re totally ready for St. Louis. Our minds are clear and the guys are focused. Charlotte could have been better but it could have been worse, so we’ll count our blessings and try to do better in St. Louis. There are still lots of rounds left in the season, and it’ll be fun to try to finish up at the top.”
BO BUTNER, JIM BUTNER AUTO, BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS: “We didn’t perform as I would have expected in the first round of the Countdown, but there are five races left for the KB Racing Chevy Camaro to climb up the standings. The AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals will be an important event to again qualify in the top half of the ladder and challenge for the victory.”